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Mercedes-Benz Defence Truck Experience 2023

The Zetros range of trucks utilises a robust 12.8 litre 6-cylinder diesel engine, available with emission level Euro III or Euro V ~ in case of this Zetros 3342 A 6x6 cargo truck the OM460 Euro III engine, developing 421hp, is connected to an Allison 45000SP six-speed automatic transmission [© Carl Schulze]

Every two years Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks division invites customers and journalists to the Defence Truck Experience, reports Carl Schulze.


During the biennial Mercedes-Benz Defence Truck Experience the company showcases its range of vehicles marketed in the defence sector. The event is conducted in the vicinity of Ötigheim in Baden-Württemberg, at the company’s own off-road test and training track. The Joint Forces Team was among the invited media-outlets to attend the event.

Trucks manufactured by Mercedes-Benz are known for their reliability, robustness and high performance. The primary focus of the Defence Truck Experience 2023 was placed on the Zetros, Arocs and UNIMOG ranges manufactured by the company.

The vehicles of the Zetros range feature outstanding off-road capabilities and are available in 4×4 and 6×6 configuration, as well as tractor trucks in 4×2 and and 6×4 configuration ~ the shown Zetros 1836 A 4×4 features a gross vehicle weight of 20 tonnes and is fitted with a military specification cargo body manufactured by HPC Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG [© Carl Schulze]
Another Zetros 2743 A 6×6 shown at the Defence Truck Experience 2023 was this tanker fitted with a 13,000 litre tank body manufactured by Lindner & Fischer Fahrzeugbau GmbH ~ the tank body includes a fuel dispensing module fitted to the rear of the vehicle [© Carl Schulze]

Mercedes-Benz Vehicles on Show: Participating in the event were, for example, three versions of the Zetros bonnet-trucks, namely: the Zetros 1836 A 4×4 truck and the Zetros 3342 A 6×6 truck, both fitted with cargo bodies; and a Zetros 2743 A 6×6 truck fitted with a 13,000 litre tank body produced by Lindner & Fischer Fahrzeugbau GmbH.

Arocs range trucks can be easily tailored to customer’s needs ~ for example, the range of engines available for the vehicles features four Euro VI models, from 7.7 litre with 238hp to 15.6 litre with 625hp and Euro III, IV and V engines are also available ~ this Arocs 1827 AK 4×4 has a gross vehicle weight of 16.5 tonnes and is powered by a 7.7 litre Euro VI 6-cylinder OM936 diesel engine, developing 272hp [© Carl Schulze]
Arocs can be delivered with different cabs and frames prepared for the installation of a large number of different body types ~ this Arocs 3343 A 6×6 fitted with a cargo-body build by the Sonntag GmbH is powered by a 10.7 litre Euro VI 6-cylinder OM470 diesel engine that develops 428hp and features the ClassicSpace L-cab [© Carl Schulze]
The Arocs 4152 AK 8×8 is 10,070 mm long, 2,500mm wide and 3,710mm high and features a gross vehicle weight of 35 tonnes powered by a 15.6 litre, 6-cylinder OM473 diesel engine that develops 517hp ~ the engine is connected to a Mercedes-Benz G 330-12/11,63-0,77 PowerShift 3 transmission [© Carl Schulze]

In case of the Arocs cab-over-engine truck range, the Arocs 1827 AK 4×4, Arocs 3343 A 6×6 and Arocs 4152 AK 8×8, all fitted with cargo bodies, took part in the event.

Turning to the UNIMOG range of heavy-duty off-road trucks, a UNIMOG U5023 4×4 with crew-cab and a UNIMOG U5000 4×4, both with cargo bodies, were shown as well as a UNIMOG U5023 4×4 configured as fire engine by the Austrian company Rosenbauer International AG.

The UNIMOG range of trucks is a class on its own when it comes to cross-country mobility. Upgraded again and again and manufactured since decades, UNIMOGs have seen military service all over the world. At the Defence Truck Experience 2023 this UNIMOG U5000 4×4 was shown, that is configured for a customer in the Baltics. The vehicle features a 4.8 litre Euro III 4-cylinder OM926 LA diesel engine developing 218hp. It has a gross vehicle weight of 12.5 tons. The shown vehicle is fitted with a cargo body build by the Austrian company EMPL Fahrzeugwerk GmbH and an 8 ton winch [© Carl Schulze]
This UNIMOG U5023 4×4 built by the Austrian company Rosenbauer International Ag is fitted with a fire engine body equipped with a front mounted monitor and features a tank that can hold up to 3,000 litre of water ~ the U5023 has a gross vehicle weight of 13 tonnes and features a 5.1 litre, Euro VI engine that develops 231hp [© Carl Schulze]

FGA Special Purpose Chassis: While manufacturing and marketing its own truck ranges Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks also sells special chassis and component sets / cabins based on Daimler Truck AG products to other national and international vehicle manufactures. Part of this range of products is the family of FGA special purpose chassis for off-road vehicles which, for example, can be fitted with armoured bodies. FGA special purpose chassis are available with a gross vehicle weight of either 9,500kg (FGA 9.5), 12,500kg/13,000kg (FGA 12.5/13) or 14,500kg (FGA 14.5).

Vehicles based on FGA special purpose chassis present at this year’s Defence Truck Experience included: the GTP 4×4 based on FGA 14.5 chassis and manufactured by the Finnish company SISU Auto AB; the Ibero SMV utilising the FGA 9.5 chassis and manufactured by the Spanish company TSD; the Enok 14.8 based on the FGA 14.5 chassis and manufactured by the German company ACS Armored Car Systems GmbH; the Arive armoured infantry vehicle based on the FGA 14.5 chassis and manufactured by the French manufacturer Soframe; and the Dingo 3 based on the FGA 9.5 chassis and manufactured by the German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG.

The GTP 4×4 manufactured by the Finnish company SISU Auto AB is based on a Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks FGA 14.5 chassis powered by an OM926 engine connected to an Allison 3500 automatic transmission ~ it is available in different body configurations, including two door and four door cabs, with cargo bed, as well as a personnel carrier cab [© Carl Schulze]
The Arive armoured infantry vehicle, of which about 2000 are currently in service around the world, is based on the FGA 14.5 of Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks chassis and manufactured by the French manufacturer Soframe ~ the vehicle belongs to the mine-protected / ambush resistant vehicle range and offers space for a complete infantry section and its kit [© Carl Schulze]
The Ibero SMV utilises the Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks FGA 9.5 chassis and is manufactured by the Spanish company TSD ~ according to information provided by the manufacturer the vehicle can accommodate up to ten troops including driver and offers ballistic and mine protection due to STANAG Level I [© Carl Schulze]
The Dingo 3 manufactured by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG is based on the FGA 9.5 chassis ~ the mine-protected / ambush resistant vehicle can be configured as personnel carrier, cargo vehicle or special mission vehicle fitted with special purpose equipment such as, for example, a CBRN reconnaissance vehicle [© Carl Schulze]

Soframe also showcased its HRV 8×8 heavy recovery vehicle that is based on the Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks Arocs 4848 AK 8×8 truck. A vehicle range utilising components manufactured by Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks is the Derman logistic support vehicle family manufactured by Koluman. The first vehicles of the family have just entered service with the Turkish Armed Forces. At the Defence Truck Experience 2023 a Derman 8×8 logistic truck with cargo handling system was also shown. The Derman trucks feature a Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks Arocs 8×8 based drive-train, including OM473 diesel engine and PowerShift 3 automatic transmission.

The Soframe HRV 8×8 heavy recovery vehicle is based on the Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks Arocs 4848 AK 8×8 truck powered by Euro III OM460 diesel engine connected to a PowerShift-3 automatic transmission ~ the recovery vehicle features a towing arm with a pull and tow capacity of 50 tonnes and lift and tow capacity of 12 tonnes [© Carl Schulze]

Integrated Logistic Support and Custom Tailored Trucks: Visitors to Ötigheim were also briefed on the Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) offered by the company, including data analysis in order to provide matching life-cycle support, technical publications, training support, through-life managing support, service-structure and after-sale support provided by the company’s around-the-world infrastructure and initial and continuous spare part supply during the life-cycle of the vehicle. Another briefing given covered the Custom Tailored Truck (CTT) branch of Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks. In 2023 so far the CTT branch, which is based in France at Molsheim, built 679 special purpose vehicles for all kinds of applications.

Driving the Beasts: Last but not least visitors were given the opportunity to get a ride in the different vehicles displayed, or to drive them themselves if they had the necessary driver’s licenses. For many driving around the challenging off-road course at Ötigheim in a heavy off-road truck was an outstanding experience, which they will not forget any time soon.

[images © Carl Schulze]


The then ‘new-generation’ Mercedes-Benz Zetros being put through its paces off-road at the Ötigheim test track in 2019, the day following its media debut [© Bob Morrison]

Editor’s Footnote: In both 2019 (Germany) and 2021 (Austria) I was fortunate in being able to attend the biennial Defence Truck / Vehicle Experiences for specialist media and although I was again invited by Mercedes-Benz to Monday’s event at Ötigheim test track, regrettably I was unable to overcome the travel logistics difficulties this time. Fortunately, however, Carl was able to change plans to attend on our behalf and not only that but the jammy beggar was blessed with blue skies for the photos! Jealous? What, me?

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